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Colin Douglass





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Colin Douglas was one of the earliest settlers in Canada, sailing on board the Hector, from Loch Broom in Scotland.


Below are extracts from An Historical Account of the Settlements of Scotch Highlanders in America, by J. P. MacLean


The following is a The following is a list of passengers that arrived on board the Hector, originally drawn up, about 1837, by William McKenzie, Loch Broom, Nova Scotia:

From Invernesshire: Colin Douglass, wife and three children, two of the latter lost on the Hector, on Middle River.

However great may have been the expectation of these poor creatures on the eve of their leaving Scotland, their hopes almost deserted them by the sight that met their view as they crowded on the deck of the vessel to see their future homes. The primeval forest before them was unbroken, save a few patches on the shore between Brown's Point and the head of the harbor, which had been cleared by the few people who had preceded them. They were landed without the provisions promised them, and without shelter of any kind, and were only able, with the help of the earlier settlers, to erect camps of the rudest and most primitive description, to shelter their sick, their wives and children from the elements. Their feelings of disappointment were most bitter, when they compared the actual facts with the free farms and the comfort promised them by the emigration agent. Although glad to be freed from the pest-house of the ship, yet they were so overcome by their disappointment that many of them sat down and wept bitterly. The previous settlers could not promise food for one-third of those who had arrived on board the Hector, and what provisions were there soon became exhausted, and the season was too late to raise another crop. To make matters still worse, they were sent three miles into the forest, so that they could not even take advantage, with the same ease, of any fish that might be caught in the harbor. These men were unskilled, and the work of cutting down the gigantic trees, and clearing up the land appeared to them to be a hopeless task. They were naturally afraid of the Indians and the wild beasts; and without roads or paths through the forest, they were frightened to move, doubtful about being lost in the wilderness.

Under circumstances, such as above narrated, it is not surprising that the people refused to settle on the company's land. In consequence of this, when the supplies did arrive, the agents refused to give them any. To add still further to the difficulties, there arose a jealously between them and the older settlers; Ross quarrelled with the company, and ultimately he left the newcomers to their fate. The few who had a little money with them bought food of the agents, while others, less fortunate, exchanged clothing for provisions; but the majority had absolutely nothing to buy with; and what little the others could purchase was soon devoured. Driven to extremity they insisted on having the supplies that had been sent to them. They were positively refused, and now determined on force in order to save the colony from starvation. Donald McDonald and ass went to the store seized the agents, tied them, took their guns from them, which they hid at a distance. Then they carefully measured the articles, took account of what each man received, that the same might be paid for, in case they should ever become able. They then left, leaving behind them Roderick McKay, a man of great energy and determination, a leader among them, who was to liberate the agents—Robert Patterson and Dr. Harris—as soon as the others could get to a safe distance, when he released them and informed them where their guns might be found, and then got out of the way himself.

The people were all religiously inclined, and some very devout. All were desirous of religious ordinances. They would meet at the regular hour on the Sabbath, Robert Marshall holding what was called a religious teaching for the English, and Colin Douglass doing the same in Gaelic. The exercises consisted of praise, prayer and the reading of the Scriptures and religious books. They were visited once or twice by Reverend David Smith of Londonderry, and Reverend Daniel Cock of Truro came among them several times. As the people considered themselves under the ministry of the latter, they went on foot to Truro to be present at his communions, and carried their children thither on their backs to be baptized by him. These people had so little English that they could scarcely understand any sermon in that language. This may be judged from an incident that occurred some years later. A Highlander, living in Truro, attended Mr. Cock's service. The latter one day took for his text the words, "Fools make a mock of sin." The former bore the sermon patiently, but said afterward, "Mr. Cock's needn't have talked so about moccasins; Mr. McGregor wore them many a time."



On July 23, 1973, thousands of Scottish-Canadians and Scottish-Americans gathered at Pictou to celebrate their common ancestry. Anchored in the harbour was the schooner Bluenose II standing in for the Hector. The guests of honour included Justice William O. Douglas of the United States Supreme Court who was present to pay homage to his ancestor Colin Douglas. Throughout the day hundreds of copies of the refurbished passenger list were distributed by high school students. William MacKay's document had been transformed into an elegant souvenir of the event. For the first time the actual list of Hector passengers was available to the general public and family historians. Genealogists would have no problem finding familiar names in the crisp, new reproduction.



The Hector's passenger list has been transcribed and shows Colin as the only adult Douglass.  There is a Margaret Douglas, aged between 2 and 8 years old and under 2, a Colin Douglas, son of Alex. However, there was no Alex Douglas on the Hector.  Colin's daughter is said to have married Peter Fraser, so how Justice Douglas is a descendant of this family remains to be determined.



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